Obama mentor to aid Friends of Ashburton Park

By - Monday 21st October, 2013

The Friends of Ashburton Park will hold their second public meeting on 23rd October 2013. Attendees can expect a vibrant campaign and an experienced community organiser, as Stephen Mann explains

In September, on a cold, wet Wednesday evening in Ashburton Park, just under fifty concerned local residents huddled under a tree to discuss the need to prevent the sale of the former library building in Ashburton Park. The Friends of Ashburton Park had formed.

People from all walks of life were there. Former users of the children’s and adults’ libraries, more recent residents, and the park-keeper (who delayed closing up whilst we considered the options) had their say. The wealth of expertise on show that night, alongside the desire to make the park a centrepiece for the local community once again, went far beyond our wildest expectations.

Just over a month later and after consulting widely with local residents, the Friends of Ashburton Park will be holding our second public meeting. The aim is to discuss what residents want to see in the building, alongside what we as a community can do to a) stop the sale and b) put forward our own plan to turn it into the community hub we all envisage, taking pride of place in the park.

Ideas have been coming thick and fast. Proposals include a café run by Croydon residents with learning difficulties, a drop-in centre for the elderly, sporting facilities and even a wedding venue. The campaign to save the building really has caught the public imagination.

To help us with this, we are delighted to be joined by one of the big beasts of community organising, Arnie Graf. Arnie has worked for over 50 years in Chicago – including with a young Barack Obama – and will help facilitate the discussion so we can slowly start to make our dreams a reality. Learning from his experience will be invaluable for the group.

While we are still waiting for further news from the council regarding the sale, the Friends will keep pushing forward in our primary aim of bringing the Old Library back into use.

If, like us, you are interested in reviving Ashburton Park and seeing the Old Library Building as a local community asset once more please do come along to:

Friends of Ashburton Park
The Drama Room
Oasis Academy Shirley Park
18.30 on Wednesday 23rd October

Please bring along a filled in copy of this questionnaire to help with the discussion.For more information follow us on Twitter (@AshburtonPark) or like us on Facebook.

Stephen Mann

Stephen Mann

Born in Addiscombe bred in Ashburton, Stephen is a local Labour activist seeking to both improve the local area and develop Croydon's community facilities. He will bea Labour candidate for Ashburton at the 2014 local elections. He also works in cricket development, covering youth engagement, and has a past in politics, disability support and communications. A keen sportsman, he is often found either at the football or on a cricket pitch.

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